Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sales, Mindset and Focus – great tips to help your small business prosper

Sandy Colombo is a business coach
It's always interesting speaking with a business coach and getting their thoughts around what it takes to succeed in business. Sandy Colombo is the owner and founder of Colombo Consulting, based in Melbourne Australia. 

I had the pleasure of chatting with Sandy recently and she shared some great tips and advice relevant to both start-up entrepreneurs as well as experienced business owners (who can sometimes lose their way) .... 

  1. Sandy, for many years you’ve been running a consulting business – but you initially came from working in the corporate world. What do you recall were the early major challenges you faced starting up your own business?
Yes I managed a whole travel business which I took from $70k in the red to 15 million dollar sale. During this time I learnt a lot about business and yet it was still a different experience when I started my own business. Cultivating the right mindset can be one of the biggest challenges. in fact  I have coached many people around how to build and maintain a positive mindset - although having a clear sales strategy certainly helps to encourage this. Often sales is done on an inconsistent bases and this is why so many businesses end up failing. The reality is no sales, no business and no income.

  1. You’ve provided mentoring to many small business owners over the years in relation to improving their sales performance – what are three of the most common mistakes you see small business owners making in relation to sales? ....... and any additional tips for avoiding these mistakes
I would say the top three learnings in small business (mistakes are just feedback if we choose to learn from them) are

A: Being reactive and inactive, rather than proactive with sales
B: Not asking for the business
C: Keeping an accurate database and following up

Let me explain a bit more about the need to be proactive ……All good sales people know the difference between proactive task and inactive tasks. People good in sales know that the proactive task is going to get them the business. The inactive task is going to take time away from your selling.

Having clear goals and having them written down makes working out what task is proactive and what task is inactive much easier. Be focused on what you require. A useful reminder here is the 80/20 rule, to help you determine where your FOCUS should be. This time management principle essentially tells us that 80 percent of the value you generate in your business comes from 20 percent of your daily tasks and activities.

So therefore you should focus on those critical few tasks that add the greatest value – and ensure you are spending more time on these particular activities. If you have staff in your business, then delegate the other stuff to them, so you can play to your strengths and also use their skills and strengths.

Don't get me wrong however. winning the sale is not enough of itself ...... Obviously there can be many important tasks associated with subsequently consistently delivering a quality product in a reliable and efficient way - and keeping your promises. 

However, some examples of inactive tasks that may be taking you away from your goal of increasing your sales might include -
·      - Checking email more than twice a day
·      -  Not being 100 per cent present when speaking with clients
·       --Handling paper more than once
·       - Procrastination and not being focused on addressing your priorities
·       - Making things harder than necessary and spending too much time on relatively trivial stuff

Examples of more proactive tasks are –
·       - Follow up quotations
·       - Contacting past clients
·       - - Developing a mail out or newsletter to your client base
·       - Networking 
·      -  Optimising your website so that it ranks higher in search engines, thereby more likely to generate enquiries

  1. You’re a big advocate of networking as a business growth strategy for helping to generate leads– and yet for many business owners, this doesn’t come easy. What are some tips you can offer?
Networking needs to be a core part of your sales strategy and then you need to look at it from a ROI point of view. Networking groups are vital for many small business owners and not just for referrals – but also for contact, professional development and feeling connected …… Isolation can be one of the biggest challenges and stressors in small business. Join a group like FRESH NETWORKING or join a business hub like WATERMAN - they offer different types of benefits although both offer social interaction (and possible referral marketing or lead generation through word of mouth)

  1. Mindset and mental outlook are such important factors that can influence a business owner’s level of success and also fulfilment ..... What can entrepreneurs do to help build and maintain the right mindset within themselves?
Absolutely a positive mindset is important. Many people have heard the old saying “if you think you can, or you think you can’t - you will be right”
My advice to your readers is to be willing to invest in yourself…… I see many business owners treat themselves poorly working ridiculously long hours, never having a break and not giving back to themselves. While there is certainly a “J curve” in business, I see many people never giving themselves a break and working 80 hour weeks. This can stop sales, as your unconscious mind is less likely to give you more clients or more work if you are not looking after yourself. Therefore quite often there are internal blocks within business owners themselves, which are standing in the way of being able to generate an increase in their sales.

When you are working like this, your thinking and your judgement can so easily become flawed, with your outlook becoming negative. The law of attraction kicks in and you get more negative stuff back - as it’s a reflection of what we put out there! …… When this happens, it can become a form of self sabotage – and we can end up creating unnecessary drama for ourselves.

  1. On this theme of mindset – passion is one thing, however as you have already said, some business owners can become quite obsessed with their business, becoming completely immersed in it. Have you seen that this can present any other risks or potential dangers?
Yes this can happen - we can become so passionate about our business that everything else takes a back seat. I have never gone to a funeral where the person who died wished they had spent more time at work..

In fact its quite the opposite. When we become obsessed with anything we are out of balance. An activity like “Wheel of life” is a good one to reassess where we are at and what is important to us. Evaluating how much of your time is allocated to the various dimensions of your life - business, versus family, friends, exercise, leisure, personal growth and social or community contributions.

Sometimes we forget about the need for balance when we get caught up in an emotion. Business can be fun and it’s great to be passionate about it. We just need to check-in and see that we are climbing the right ladder …… otherwise you can end up investing a lot of time and effort to discover you’re climbing the wrong ladder.

  1. Any final advice you’d like to offer to our readers who are working on starting or growing their home-based small business?
Invest in yourself and your business. Personal development is the key. Every time I did any form of Professional Development I found that my business boomed. ……I learnt to put in systems, check my ego and make business easy.
I always ask my clients - Do you want to be right or rich ? And by Rich, I mean richness. Richness in life to have the relationships we want, the time and freedom to invest in the activities we are passionate about and the money to do all of it. People who keep on insisting that their way is the "right" way can become stuck in their ways - they close themselves to the need for change - and fail to recognise the opportunities for learning and improving. 

Thank you to Sandy -  more information about her business coaching services can be found at - 

More information on Mindset and dealing with some of those "inside blocks" that can get in the way of enjoying business success can be found here -